Fighting Fracked Gas, 334 Miles Away

September 19, 2017

By Ted Gleichman, Beyond Gas & Oil Team

Can Portland leadership help stop the largest, most dangerous, and most devastating fossil fuel scheme in state history?  

We are in “round three” of trying to stop Canadian energy speculator Veresen, Inc., from slashing a clearcut through 235 miles of public forest land, farms, ranches, homes, and communities for an explosive fracked-gas pipeline, Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.  This 36-inch diameter monstrosity would carry Canadian fracked gas from the interstate gas pipeline hub near Malin to Coos Bay, on the coast.  (The Malin pipeline hub is 334 miles from the Oregon Chapter office in Portland.)

Nature's nurtured bounty in Southern Oregon-September 19 2017

Today’s organic harvest by an “Affected Landowner.”  Their land includes a sustainably-harvested woodlot that Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would tear through.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

In Coos Bay, Veresen plans a massive industrial terminal to export this Canadian gas to Asia as LNG (liquefied natural gas): the Jordan Cove Energy Project.  Pacific Connector/Jordan Cove (PC/JC) would become the largest greenhouse gas polluter in Oregon.  Oregonians have been fighting to stop this for almost 13 years now.

This scheme is the Trump Regime’s top energy priority now, after Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline.  So how can we who live in Portland make a difference?

Easy! … and hard: basic grassroots organizing.  Here’s the deal: Two-thirds of the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature live in the Portland Metro area.  They need to be part of this fight, and you can help!

Oregon Chapter and Columbia Network are key leaders in developing a new multi-organization action team, Stop Fracked Gas/PDX.  We are asking Sierra Club Members and supporters to join us in educating and persuading our State Representatives and Senators on how they can make a difference.  Down the road, we expect to work with other stakeholders as well.

To join in, please email me for the simple details for the next step.

Portland Democrats must not support the Trump fossil fuels agenda !!!

Thank you!  Email: ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org

 

 


Meet Oregon Sierra Club’s volunteer and activist extraordinaire Jennifer Haynes

August 28, 2017

Jennifer Haynes didn’t start out as your trademark activist. The Many Rivers Group Executive Committee member describes herself as an “introverted scientist,” and for many years she resisted joining volunteer leadership or campaign efforts, thinking she didn’t fit the mold.

Jen Haynes 2Jennifer joined the Sierra Club in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.  An avid hiker — she has backpacked the length of Oregon along the Pacific Crest Trail — she had been retreating from the L.A. city bustle to the Santa Monica mountains when she began to notice the extent of environmental damage being done there. But with her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Jennifer joined the Sierra Club in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. An avid hiker — she has backpacked the length of Oregon along the Pacific Crest Trail — she had been retreating from the L.A. city bustle to the Santa her work at Children’s Hospital, she figured it was better to stick with outings and donations, leaving the activism to others.

That all changed a year-and-a-half ago. While in the middle of pursuing her next degree in environmental nonprofit management from the University of Oregon, studying hard and switching careers, Jennifer decided to pitch her hat in the ring and run for a position as a Club board member on the Many Rivers Group Executive Committee. Needless to say, she won.

In that post, she’s been striving to protect the Elliott State Forest, an ecologically priceless tract of land threatened by privatization. The Elliott State Forest has been part of the Common School Fund lands for nearly a century, an archaic designation that has unfortunately pitted the forest’s continued preservation against the successful funding of Oregon’s public education system. State law mandates that the land be used to bring in cash that funds schools, and the obvious revenue stream from a forest is timber. Ironically then, in an effort to better our children’s future, the state is promoting ecological unsustainability.

But the Elliott isn’t just a tract of valuable trees. It’s home to marbled murrelets, spotted owls, and coho salmon, three of the Pacific Northwest’s iconic endangered species, and each in relatively high numbers to boot. Upon their listing to the Endangered Species Act and a coinciding series of environmental law suits, Oregon could no longer clear cut and log timber to the extent they desired, resulting in several years of monetary losses.
Under Governor Kate Brown, the state decided to try to minimize the losses by selling off the land. They expected to receive over $200 million for the sale to the lone bidder, a timber company. Unsurprisingly, the proposed protections for the land were frighteningly lenient.

Jennifer, a native of Eastern Oregon, and her partners in the Many Rivers Group didn’t like the sound of that. Through ads in the Eugene Weekly, rallies, and organized meetings for the campaign, along with an alliance of “Elliotteers,” a multi-organization environmental coalition, they succeeded earlier this year in convincing the State Land Board to keep the land in public ownership. Then Governor Brown and the Oregon legislature succeeded in securing $100 million in bond money during the 2017 session to buy out the most sensitive areas of the forest, constituting a major victory in the campaign to keep the Elliott in public ownership.

But even with the funding, that leaves two main goals for the continued protection of the Elliott and forests around the state in similar positions. First, Jennifer and her team want to make sure that the Elliott’s habitat conservation plan proceeds in a positive way, as the state has been known to enact and practice poor management policies in the past. Second, the passage of the Trust Lands Transfer bill in the 2017 session should help clear up any future conflicts of interest between environmental protection and children’s education. That legislation will not only impact the Elliott State Forest, but all Common School Fund lands.

And yet, despite all her success in activism, Jennifer still has a year to go in pursuit of her environmental degree and continues to identify as a scientist. To this end, she offered a message to any prospective volunteers for the Sierra Club: overcome any lingering fears or doubts about jumping into volunteering, she said. Everyone has their own abilities to offer the Club, and who knows, it could lead to a new path in life, just like it did for Jennifer.


Save Our Salmon – Free The Snake!

August 17, 2017

As mentioned last month, misguided and anti-environmental members of Congress are again trying to halt efforts to restore wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State – joined by Oregon Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden – recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3144) that would stop action – including even studying possible actions – to aid endangered salmon in the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This bill must be stopped.

In the midst of some of the worst salmon and steelhead returns in recent memory, this legislation could hardly be more ill advised. For one thing, it would prevent federal agencies from increasing water “spill” to aid salmon or from studying removal of four aging, outdated, and expensive dams on the Lower Snake River. However, spill is a critical tool for helping to ensure the survival of young salmon on their way to the Pacific, as was recently detailed in a letter to decision-makers from dozens of scientists. A handful of non-scientist members of Congress simply have no place to try to obstruct the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon earlier this year that extra spill is necessary for these fish.

H.R. 3144 also ignores tribes and Northwest commercial and sport-fishing economies, along with growing evidence that orcas are starving as their Columbia and Snake River salmon head toward extinction. H.R. 3144 is misinformed, counter-productive, and would be extremely damaging to salmon recovery efforts if passed. One has to wonder why Rep. Schrader would sign onto this bill that would both undermine the judicial process and be potentially devastating to fishermen and businesses in his district.

As detailed in Josh Mills’ clear-eyed piece in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, do we really want to rubber-stamp two decades of failed policies on Columbia and Snake Rivers?

No, we do not. Contact your representative today to make sure that does not happen and that H.R. 3144 goes nowhere.

And if you’re really inspired to help save Columbia and Snake River salmon, one other very fun thing you can do is head out to Clarkston, Washington, on September 8 and 9 to take part in the 3rd annual Free The Snake Flotilla! This event has been amazing for the last few years and the 2017 version promises to be bigger and better than ever. Get more information and register today!


Keep the Frack Out! Big Win at the Oregon Public Utility Commission

August 17, 2017

We set a record with the length of the meeting on Tuesday, August 8th . One of the PUC staffers said around 2 pm she had worked here for 40 years and this was the longest! And we didn’t wrap up until 3.40!

Everyone was so patient…Thank you so much to everyone who came out! 25-30 of us showed up in red!
PUC_20170808

The PUC essentially said NO, in every way that they could, to the 2 new fracked gas plants in Portland General Electric’s (PGE’s) energy plan (Integrated Resource Plan or IRP).

WAHOO!, we have these fracked gas plants nailed into that coffin!!

We still need for PGE to withdraw their permits for the Carty 1 and 2 gas plants at the DEQ and EFSC, but this is definitely an important win to celebrate, while at the same time continuing to hold PGE’s feet to the fire to make sure that they withdraw their permits, and that they don’t sneak gas purchase contracts into their energy plan.

We can use your help to spread the word in social media, and say:

“We stopped @PortlandGeneral’s #frackedgas plants. Time for #cleanenergy!”

Here are some photos and a news article you can use:
Carty 1 Gas Plant  See also the Article in the Eastern Oregonean :
http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/local-news/20170808/regulators-deny-gas-plant-expansion
Activists in the steps of the PUC
Why PGE Flash Mob

This is a big win!

Stopping these fracked gas power plants continues the fight for 100% clean energy. It’s also a win for communities all over, from communities at the fracked gas drill sites, along pipelines, and in front-line communities of the climate crisis.

Thank you for clearing the pathway to 100% clean energy for all! 

Let’s celebrate this victory!


Last hearing to oppose Tesoro Savage Oil — August 22 in Vancouver!

August 15, 2017

After years of fighting, a final decision on the Tesoro Savage Oil terminal will be made in the coming months. The final hearing is August 22 — will you be there?

Community outreach against Tesoro Savage

If approved, the Tesoro Savage Crude Oil export terminal will handle up to 360,000 barrels of oil per day, and bring 4 more explosive oil trains per day through the Columbia River Gorge. We can’t allow this to happen!

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is holding this last hearing on August 22 in Vancouver, before giving their recommendation to Governor Inslee, who has the final say on the project. We must come together to stop the largest oil terminal in North America from coming to our region.

Join us on August 22 to show Governor Inslee and EFSEC we support clean air, clean water and clean communities — not oil trains! RSVP today!

Event Details:

WHAT: Final Hearing on Tesoro Savage

WHEN: Tuesday, August 22: Rally at 12:00, Hearing from 1:00-9:00 PM 

WHERE: Clark College Columbia Technical Centre
18700 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98683 (map)
(Note – this is a different location than the last hearing)

RSVP here!

Questions? Contact Cecile at Cecile.gernez@sierraclub.org

Join us for a noon rally in a show of strong, public opposition to the Tesoro Savage terminal. Then join the EFSEC hearing, where you will have a chance to make a public comment, and put your concerns about the project into the official record, before EFSEC makes their final recommendation.  A fact-sheet and some talking points will be emailed to you once you RSVP to help you prepare.

We need you to show up at the last public hearing to stop North America’s largest crude oil export terminal from being built in our backyard.  This is last hearing EFSEC will hold before giving their final recommendation to Governor Inslee, the last step before he makes the final decision on Tesoro Savage. 

We’ve been fighting this project for over 5 years, and it’s all led up to these final moments. Let’s show up, pack the hearing room and shut this down! Remember to wear red!

Cecile Gernez, Sierra Club
Conservation Organizer, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter

P.S. We must bring everybody together to stop this terrible project, once and for all.  Share this critical event with your friends and family today!


FERC Disses Oregon’s Big Three over Jordan Cove LNG Review Process

July 14, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

IMPORTANT: At the end of this post are two Action Items!

FERC-Francis Eatherington-September 2015

FERC Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Francis Eatherington, a Landowner on the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline route planned for Douglas County, Oregon, participated in a fast and vigil at FERC in September 2015.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

What kind of a Federal agency ignores both Senators and the Governor of a state, rejecting a simple request from the top three elected officials, for a request it had approved quickly in the past? Tragically for Oregon, it’s an agency that was always generally terrible, and is now in the process of being taken over by the Trump Regime: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Thirteen Years of Fighting

This is all about the bitterly-controversial new version of the proposed joint Jordan Cove Energy Project & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (JC/PC) in Southern Oregon. It consists of a plan to run a new 235-mile explosive 36-inch-diameter fracked-gas pipeline across four counties, linking from the Rockies and Canada, to transport the methane to a massive new industrial-plant export terminal in Coos Bay that would convert it to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to sell in Asia. This $8 billion-plus scheme by a Canadian energy speculator has bedeviled a broad coalition of Oregonians in opposition for more than 13 years, and is now into its third major attempt to win approval.

Now On Tap: A New EIS

So now it is time for FERC to manage a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). A month ago, FERC suddenly announced 30 days to receive “scoping” comments, and set three narrowly-constrained public hearings to launch that scoping process: taking advice on what the scope of the DEIS should include.

When this was done before in 2012, the agency began with a 30-day comment period, but scheduled open public hearings in all four “affected counties”: Coos, Douglas, Jackson, and Klamath, with a total population of almost half a million people. That ultimately led to a Final EIS (FEIS) for the Federal eminent domain and construction permit approval process that FERC finally rejected twice, in 2016.

Ruby Pipeline Clearcut-Klamath County

The clearcut in Klamath County above the path of the Ruby Pipeline, delivering fracked gas from Wyoming and Colorado to Malin, Oregon, where Pacific Connector would begin its 235-mile run to the Pacific Coast.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

Oregon’s top elected leaders then requested more time – 90 days – for residents and stakeholders to evaluate and comment on thousands of pages of documents concerning the largest proposed construction project in state history. FERC quickly agreed.

What’s Jackson County?  Chopped Liver??

This year, when FERC abruptly launched scoping again with a 30-day window, they also left out Jackson County, which includes almost half of the total population of the four counties – and has been the heart of the resistance to the pipeline.  And they changed the process from open testimony at a microphone in front of all the attendees to private testimony to a court reporter — so no one else attending can hear others’ thoughts, and build on them or avoid repetition.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Governor Kate Brown then formally told FERC that Oregonians deserved 90 days, and Jackson County deserved its own hearing. Others, including the Jackson County Commissioners and the Medford Mail Tribune, joined in.

These requests for a cleaner, more open process, allowing genuine input, were almost completely ignored by FERC.  To be fair, the agency said that they would continue to review new scoping comments after the July 10 deadline they’d set.  But they also emphasized that an open scoping process is entirely voluntary on FERC’s part, not required by law but only an operational procedure to allow community input that they are not required to consider.  FERC cannot be sued for ignoring scoping comments, for example.

Why Does “Inside FERC” Matter?  Because Here Comes the Trump Regime!

This pruning of the process does not bode well for Oregon’s future relationship to the agency, as Trump nominees will be coming in to take it over this summer. Therefore, with FERC looking strongly like it is now already in the pocket of the Canadian energy speculator and the fossil fuels industry for JC/PC – the way FERC has behaved traditionally for almost every other project! – we need to be extra vigilant.

It seems increasingly likely that our work to stop this dangerous and destructive project is going to depend on state and local action. As usual: stay tuned!

Two Opportunities For Action Right Now!

First: Statewide.  We appreciate the Big Three advocating for a better process.  But it would be even better if Wyden, Merkley, and Brown actually came out against this terrible project.  Please ask them to take a stand against the Trump fracked-gas export agenda for Oregon!  They cannot be “climate champion” and “pro-Paris Accords” if they let Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector happen on their watch.

Tell them to take a stand for Oregon and the planet:

https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/Oregon?actionId=AR0082644&id=70131000001Lp1FAAS&utm_campaign=addthis&utm_source=email&utm_medium=recruit#.WVUUWGv-K80.email

Second: In the Portland Metro area.  We are helping to lead the development of a broad new coalition in Portland to help stop Jordan Cove.  Please come to our  organizing meeting if you can:

WHAT: Portland Area Stop Jordan Cove Organizing Meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, July 19th, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
WHERE: Multnomah Friends Meetinghouse, 4312 SE Stark, Portland
MORE INFO: 503-705-1943, goto350pdx@gmail.com

Please RSVP:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeVqG0jYfUMBLkPyde8qRf-MarZiiDu6bM_2oCzfdvxxp05bA/viewform

Please join us to protect Oregon and block this dangerous climate wrecking project.

Ted Gleichman is policy advisor for the Oregon Chapter Beyond Gas & Oil Team and a member of the National Strategy Team for Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.

 


Legislative Update: Free At Last!

July 13, 2017

We wrapped up the 2017 Oregon legislative session on July 7, and it’s safe to say the session wasn’t a rousing success for the environment. We had a few major victories that we should be very proud of, but many, many things were left undone. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the accomplishments and failures of the 2017 session.

The Oregon Chapter’s top legislative priority was to pass the “Clean Energy Jobs bill” to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and create a “cap and invest” program. Unfortunately, neither the Senate version (SB 557) nor the House version (HB 2135) reached a floor vote in their respective chambers. But over the course of the legislative session, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee convened a number of meetings to work through the policy details for the best version of a Clean Energy Jobs bill, resulting in the creation of Senate Bill 1070. Introduced in the waning days of the 2017 session, this bill synthesized much of the analysis done over the intervening months and incorporated many suggestions from our community. We believe SB 1070 will provide an excellent jumping-off point in the 2018 session, so that we can hit the ground running and not have to spend time analyzing policy details.

Our other top priority was to pass legislation to help solve the ongoing conundrum with the Elliott State Forest. After the State Land Board voted in May to keep the Elliott in public ownership, the focus shifted to finding a pathway to $100 million in bonding to begin the process of buying out the Common School Fund obligations of the forest. We also prioritized passing Senate Bill 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, to prevent future Elliott-like situations. And in one of our biggest victories of the 2017 session, we succeeded in doing both! See the separate blog post here for the exciting details.

And as was evident to anyone paying attention to the legislature this year, the transportation package was a primary focus for lawmakers. We worked in the Capitol to support our partners’ efforts to create a package that invests in the infrastructure and services that most meet Oregonians’ needs: rural and urban transit, safe walking and biking options, clean air solutions, and public accountability. Here again, after much wrangling – including over continued efforts to roll back the Clean Fuels Program in our state – we succeeded in passing a transportation package that met all those needs and kept the Clean Fuels Program intact!

One other real victory in the 2017 session was Senate Bill 3, which will go a long way toward limiting the impacts of suction dredge mining on our state’s waters. Governor Brown signed the bill on June 14 and then held a ceremonial signing with our coalition and key legislators on June 22 (see photo above). This victory was a long time in coming and it will have real benefits to salmon habitat in Oregon. Our coalition worked for years to make it happen and we should all be proud of our accomplishment!

Unfortunately, there were also a number of missed opportunities in the session as well. As already mentioned, the failure to move a Clean Energy Jobs bill was a major shortcoming. House Bill 2020, which would have reformed the Oregon Department of Energy and explicitly brought climate change into the agency’s purview, failed in the waning days of the session. Our coalition’s package of bills to address the critical issue of oil trains in our state (HB 2131 and SB 7) did not end up passing. And while Senate Bill 1008 was intended to create more stringent standards for diesel emissions in Oregon, the final bill was so watered down that it will hardly accomplish anything useful.

So, clearly, there is still much to do in the 2018 session and in the interim leading up to it! The successes we did have this year were, of course, due to the support from you – our members and supporters. It was your calls, e-mails, and visits to your legislators’ offices that made the difference, and for that, we thank you very much. We now have our marching orders for the 2018 session, so please stay tuned for ways you can help us do much more next year!